Another week and another set of under-whelming blockbusters.
First up is James McAvoy going A-List in Wanted, as Angelina Jolie plucks him from a life of mediocrity to run around as a super-assassin firing bullets around corners and doing cool only-in-movies stuff . Overall the reviews have been OK but the UK broadsheets are having none of it. Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian loathes it with his customary eloquence (1-star), ‘you could gargle bitumen and bin-juice for half an hour, and it couldn't leave a nastier taste in your mouth than this macho action thriller.’ The Independent (also 1-star) goes with ‘I’d like to dismiss it as heartless, antisocial, impudent and repulsive. For starters, the level of violence is grotesque even by modern standards.’ The Times (2-star) blames the Matrix which has ‘influenced a whole multiverse of movies over the years. But no film has lifted its plot and style so hamfistedly as this one.’ It’s basically a fantasy for 14-year old boys and if you are one (or you remember being one) you might possibly enjoy it. Just don’t tell Peter Bradshaw.
Next up, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Hancock and A Complete History of My Sexual Failures
The second instalment of Narnia arrives with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. There’s a general air of disappointment with the end result. The Guardian does give 3-stars saying that ‘it's entertaining, value-for-money stuff. Families and fans of the CS Lewis books can consider themselves in safe hands.’ The acting is described in all the reviews as 'stiff’ and ‘wooden’ but it’s Anthony Quinn in The Independent (1-star) who really takes a dislike to the film. ‘Kids under 12 may just buy into its soppy rites-of-passage homily; everyone else will be checking their watches and wishing themselves out of this turgid make-believe.’ In film terms this is Lord of The Rings for kids but without any charm, emotion or character development. Apparently we have five more Narnia films to look forward to. Fatigue has already set in.
Hancock opens next Wednesday. The concept could have worked brilliantly; a drunk superhero with anger management issues who needs to clean up his act. Reviews are average to bad. The Times (3-stars) says that for the, ‘first 40 minutes at least, is the summer blockbuster we deserve.’ However the film doesn’t sustain it. The Guardian (2-stars) thinks it should be called ‘Asshole’ and that the problem stems from Will Smith who ‘dressed in grungy clothes and deprived of the courteous charm that usually makes him such an attractive screen presence, is frankly vacuous.’ The Independent spits out a solitary star calling it a ‘special-effects extravaganza that's very boring indeed, and doesn't quite deafen us to the inadequacies of the script, while Smith pretends to be a grumpy git but, naturally, winds up begging us to love him.’
Changing track entirely is A Complete History of My Sexual Failures, a low-budget documentary following single thirtyish British actor Chris Waitt as he tracks down his ex-girlfriends to see what went wrong. The Times likes it (4-stars) saying ‘the results are often hilarious, sometimes moving and speak directly to the hapless paramour in all of us.’ The Independent is less taken in saying that he ‘He ends up looking exactly the sort of person his former girlfriends reckoned him to be, viz. a twerp. As in life, so in film: it's only funny for a while.’ (2-stars).
Next week it’s The Mist and in a couple of weeks we have Pixar’s Wall-E, which is currently getting spectacular reviews on the other side of the pond.
By James Bryan